After the completion of Assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory, the Election Commission has decided to set up a core committee to identify learning, experiences and shortcomings from the recent polls in Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry.
Deputy Election Commissioners of the poll panel, the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of these states and few select Special Observers and Observers will be members of the committee. The committee has been asked to submit its report within a month. The recent Assembly polls in four states and one UT were organised in March-April and the counting of votes was completed on May 2.
The core committee, headed by the EC's Secretary General, is broadly tasked to identify shortcomings or gaps in the poll panel's regulatory regime, if any, and the gaps in implementation and enforcement at the level of CEOs or district officials.
It will identify the need for strengthening legal or regulatory framework enabling the Election Commission to more effectively ensure compliance of guidelines or directions, including the COVID-19 norms, and also keep focus on measures to ensure discharge of responsibility, like enforcement of COVID-19 protocol by the agencies or authorities mandated under respective regulatory or legal regime to do so, irrespective of EC guidelines.
Gaps, if any, in the guidelines or at implementation level in the Model Code of Conduct, leading to avoidance or non-compliance by the candidates and political parties' stakeholders will also be under the scrutiny of the committee.
Measures to further strengthen the expenditure management regulation for inducement-free election, shortcomings in existing framework in providing protection to electoral machinery from possibility of reprisal after elections, and gaps in communication strategy, if any, will also be taken care by it.
It will also take up measures required for strengthening the offices of electoral machinery at the state level namely the offices of CEOs, District Electoral Officers (DEOs) and Returning Officers (ROs); and issues related to electoral roll, voter list and delivery of Electoral Photo Identity Cards.
The Committee has also been asked to collate, analyse experiences, best practices across states and UTs and suggest way forward and further reforms required.
While finalising its recommendations, the Committee will also take inputs from state nodal officers of different divisions like police, expenditure, health authorities as well as from some DEOs, SPs and ROs identified by CEOs, polling officials, block level officers about the issues and challenges faced at the grass root levels.
It will also examine the recommendations of the nine Working Groups, set up post the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in light of experiences.
The EC had formed nine working groups of CEOs and poll panel officers covering various facets of election process including electoral roll issues, polling stations management, Model Code of Conduct, voting processes and materials inventory, capacity building, IT applications, expenditure management, SVEEP and media interface as also electoral reforms.